Judi Lombardi, Memories on the Move Travel

Starting a business is not easy. Starting a successful business is even harder. Judi Lombardi has done both the past 9 months with her newly opened travel agency, Memories on the Move Travel. 

A seasoned traveler with a passion for planning, she finally made the leap a decade after she first started exploring the idea of starting a travel agency. In 2023, she took the plunge! You’ll hear what gave her the push she needed to make that leap, why she chose to take HAR’s Accelerator course versus doing it on her own, and how she had a lightbulb moment about being an entrepreneur while watching Host Week EduSpots.  

Opening in June of 2023, Memories on the Move is on track to replace Judi’s previous salary by June of 2024. While Judi has shied away from doing any formal advertising, her agency is a great case study in the power of referrals, hand written notes, and client testimonials. Oh, and did we mention she has a 100% testimonial return rate from her clients? She’ll share her secret sauce for that too!

When it comes to fees, this Massachusetts based advisor came up with a creative workaround that her clients loved, gave her a little more time to figure out her fee structure, AND helped paved the way for charging fees when she was ready. It’s a must listen for any new advisor or veteran advisors getting ready to start implementing fees.

And for any entrepreneur that feels overwhelmed with ideas to implement and has trouble staying on task, this former speech therapist has a solution for that too. It’s called her tickler file and every advisor should have one. 

Whether you’re new or experienced, there’s a little something for everyone in this episode! We’ve got inspiration. We’ve got effective organic marketing tips that don’t take a lot of time but have a lot of impact. We’ve got advice for newbies, from a successful newbie, Won’t you join us?

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Show Notes

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1. Judi's Website: Memories on the Move is full of content and has a detailed fee page.

2. Watch Host Week on YouTube: HAR's annual virtual event that is unbeatable! Learn more + register for Host Week.

2.5 Judi + Marilyn's 7 day Setup Accelerator Course EduSpot: Learn more about the course from real advisors who have gone through the course and have successful agencies.

3. EduSpot on Newsletters: Mimi Lichtenstein's "Newsletters: Cultivate Your Ideal Clients with 3 Simple Steps".

4. HAR's 7 Day Setup Accelerator Course: Launch your travel agency faster, with the support you need from experts and peers.

5. Ashley's Testimonial Gathering Tips: Listen to TAC episode 25 to learn how Ashley gets clients to send back detailed testimonials and amazing pictures.

6. How to Ask Other Travel Advisors Questions: Not getting the response you'd like to your questions to other travel peers? It's likely because you're not asking the right thing. Here's what you need to do.

7. When to get a CRM/Itinerary Builder: Not sure when to take the plunge? Our Friday 15 has you covered.

8. Best Travel Itinerary Builders: We put a list together letting you compare side by side the itinerary builders out there for travel advisors.

9. Masters in Travel Podcast: Whitney Shindelar's podcast that Judi loves.

10. The Strategic Travel Entrepreneur Podcast: Rita Perez's podcast that Judi loves.

11. The Hive: Whitney Shindelar's supplier directory site.

12. Start with Why: Simon Sinek's Ted Talk.


[00:13:41] Steph: Welcome to Travel Agent Chatter, Volume 28. Travel Agent Chatter is an audio series produced by the team here at Host Agency Reviews, each and every quarter. Today's episode dives in with a seasoned traveler that has a passion for planning who made the leap a decade after she first started exploring the idea of starting a travel agency.

You'll hear what gave our guest the push she needed to make that leap, why she chose to take HAR's Accelerator course versus doing it on her own, and how she had a lightbulb moment while watching a Host Week EduSpots. Now we all know that starting a business is not easy, and starting a successful business is even harder.

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Today's guest has done both in the last nine months with her newly opened agency, Memories on the Move Travel. You'll be inspired by the fact that Judy's agency is on track to replace her previous salary by June of 2025, just one year after opening her doors. And while Judy has shied away from doing any formal advertising, her agency is a great case study in the power of referrals, handwritten notes, and client testimonials.

Oh, and did we mention that she has a 100 percent testimonial return rate from her clients? She'll share her secret sauce for that, too. And when it comes to fees, this Massachusetts based advisor came up with a creative solution that clients loved, gave her more time to work on her fee structure, and helped pave the way for charging fees when she was ready.

It's a must listen for new advisors and veteran advisors that are getting ready to start implementing fees. And for any advisor or entrepreneur out there that feels overwhelmed with the ideas that they need to implement and has trouble staying on task because of this, this former speech therapist has a solution for that too.

It's called her tickler file and every business owner should have one. Now, whether you're new or experienced, there's a little something for everyone in this episode. We've got inspiration. We've got effective organic marketing that doesn't take a lot of time, but has a lot of impact. We've got advice for newbies from a successful newbie.

So without further ado, let's get onto the show.

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[00:16:01] Intro

[00:16:01] Steph: Well, welcome, welcome, welcome. Happy noon. Happy afternoon. Happy evening. Happy whatever time of day it is when you're listening to this. I am Steph Lee, the founder of Host Agency Reviews, and I am also going to be your host for today's podcast episode. And today is a very uplifting, especially if you're new.

It's going to be very uplifting for if you're new to the industry or if you're having trouble getting those sales numbers up and you've been in the business for a little bit. So today's guest's niche is moderately priced travel, and she has a special fondness for showing the joy of travel to new travelers or those who are looking to expand their travels beyond Mexico and the Caribbean.

So you'll be hearing about how our guest has been wanting to jump into travel for years, but As we all know, life happens. And then the stars finally aligned in 2023. She made the leap retiring from her job to take a stab at travel full time, where she has been very successful and we will get a feel for how she grew her book of business from zero clients to making back her salary within one year that she had previously, and along with that, she'll share her secret to staying focused in the very ADHD.

Like setting that comes with starting a business that has a zillion moving parts. It's a little something she called a tickler file. And that my friends is just the tip of the iceberg for today. Any links or resources that we talk about today will be found in the show notes, which you can find by visiting hostagencyreviews.

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com slash TAC and clicking on episode 28. And a map for today's walk. We're going to be covering a variety of topics for each segment, and the first one is beginnings. We'll talk about building clientele. We'll jump into marketing and operations. She'll give some advice for newbies and then of course, we'll follow it up with our indispensable segment.

So Judy, welcome to Travel Agent Chatter.

[00:18:01] Judi: Oh, thank you for having me Steph. I appreciate it.

[00:18:04] Beginnings

[00:18:04] Steph: It's so wonderful to have you. Some of you that tuned in for Host Week, which happened late January this year. And if you missed it, we will put a link in the show notes. But Judy was also on she did an EduSpots, which are education sessions.

She did one of those on the Accelerator course. So she may look or sound familiar to you and we'll put a link to that as well. So Judy, when we chatted, your grandma Always prioritize travel. So every grandkid, when they graduated, got a trip and yours was a trip to Hawaii with collect vacations. And she told you that when you're young travel, then do not wait until you're older, like she did.

And that really planted a seed for you from a very young age. So how did that. Totally change your perspective her taking you on this trip and telling you that

[00:18:54] Judi: so when she used to take us on the trip She had this back porch and the back porch was loaded with all of those old fashioned Trivets, you know the ceramic with a and she was the queen of bus tours You know every grandma back then would either be baking cookies or have their knitting basket My grandmother had a knitting basket that was filled with us tour brochures She was the queen of bus tours.

And so we would talk all the time and just chit chat about the different little 40 trips and when that was the big thing. And so she constantly talked about, first of all, a lot about America, a lot about how beautiful it is. And this is the places to see. And then just the growth of it. She was always, to me, a woman who's way ahead of her time.

You know, just the way she thought about things in the world. So when we went to Hawaii. It was a bus tour that was an air tour at the time and I met the tour guides there and between meeting the tour guides, between seeing the people and honestly, like I'm really a people person, my degree at the time was in communications, so I talk a lot and so anyway, between that, watching my grandmother, seeing my grandmother struggle a little with my grandfather because he was starting to have memory issues and so Just don't wait, don't wait.

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So I truly like just kind of embraced that, like do it, find a way where there's a will, there's a way. And so then I just tried to, after that grow and take full advantage of every opportunity that I could. And because I was much younger than everybody else on the bus tour, I kind of hung out with the tour guides and.

It was great. And I talked to them and I'm like, I like your job. I want your job. And so that's how I ended up applying. He encouraged me that my tour guide and to apply. And I ended up working for Colette for a little over three years. Phenomenal job. It was great. They were wonderful family run business out of Rhode Island, and I got to travel around and see so many different places.

So it started the bug, but that was a tough job to hold on to for a long period of

[00:20:59] Steph: time. Yeah, it's one of those that makes up for it in the experiences, but the pay is lacking.

[00:21:05] Judi: Yes, and we got exhausted because we were talking about 20, 25 days a month, you know, but it was great. And I just, the people you meet and the places you see and.

The things you got to do, it was really, it was, it just lit a fire that never left me.

[00:21:21] Steph: Yeah, well, okay. So you've been traveling and I've loved travel for a long time but after You went back to school, you became a speech therapist. So give us a quick walkthrough on how you ended up opening a travel agency, because I know there were some setbacks when you were looking to get started.

You've been looking to get started for quite a

[00:21:42] Judi: while. So I always loved travel. I always used to say, I'm going to go back and be a tour guide when I get older. So I ended up, you know, you get married, you have kids. I had a, a career I'm taking care of the family and then little by little. You know, I just, I loved my career, but it started to get old.

It's just, you know, it, I, it, I, it served its purpose and, but travel through the years, we used to take family vacations and then we took a lot of multi generation. So my parents are divorced. So we'd take trips with my father and then we'd take trips with my mother and my stepfather. I would be in charge of planning them all.

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And I, and they would ask tons of questions. So I had color coded, you know, itineraries put together. I even down to what they were supposed to pack. Like, so I was doing it at least a couple of times a year, every year trying to, you know, Find the best deals, find the coolest thing to do. Just not getting paid.

Exactly, just not getting paid. And then even at one point I had friends, we used to post on social media, they were like, well we want to go with you. So I planned a big cruise group. And there was 33 people on that one. And so I kept saying, well maybe this is my way back into the travel. I don't have to wait until I get older and the kids are gone and I can, you know, maybe go back to tour guiding and so yeah, so that's, I kept looking into it and I stumbled upon you back in 2014.

I'm like, what's a host agency? This is such a thing. Like I had no clue, nothing whatsoever. So I ended up taking a little course. I ended up back in 2015. I passed my tap. . And my dad got sick. Mm-Hmm. . And so I, you know, was his primary caregiver for a few years. My kids were in those years where I still had to drive them everywhere, do everything for them, like they were old enough to take care of their everyday needs.

But I was the taxi driver. . Yep. All the different sporting you just like, your life is not your own. And he passed away. And then my stepfather got sick and then my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. So. It was, the teens weren't good. The 20 teens weren't good to us. So I went from taking care of one to the next, to the next.

And my mother passed away in 2020 July. So a few months into the pandemic and. You know, at that point you go through the morning process and then I'm like, you know what, it's time I do something for me. And of course it was nice. I have two military daughters who were home during the pandemic and they're like, mom, just do something that's for you for once.

And so that, that sort of started, I started poking around on Host Week again, I mean, on, on your website, on her. And then I found out that you did this thing called Host Week.

[00:24:38] Steph: Well, that was new, I think, in 2020 too, because we started it because of the pandemic.

[00:24:44] Judi: Yes. I'm like, what is a Host Week? So it almost was like at that point on that little by little, I started poking around and my job, I was ready.

It was ready for the transition. The stars aligned that the world was coming out of the pandemic. Travel was starting to bloom again. And I remember I had this sign in my house. It says, don't quit your daydream. And it's always been my dream. So it was, it was literally a now or never moment. And it was that Host Week of 2023.

Wow. And I listened to every second, every second. And even though, yes, every second of it, I had detailed notes. I had stuff going on and it was just, it, boom, that was it. And you didn't, you launch, I think you launched the Accelerator course that during,

[00:25:35] Steph: yeah, we launched the Accelerator course in 2023. Yeah.

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The star is truly aligned

[00:25:40] Judi: for you. It really did. And it's, it's meant to be. And. I honestly kind of go back and think about I'm glad it happened this way because my kids are all doing fine. They're all older, doing their thing. And I really can give my attention to, to this,

[00:25:59] Steph: you know? Yeah. I wish you didn't have to go through that tough decade.

But I think for those listening, it's for a lot of people starting a business has fits and stops and life happens and you know, not to give up because Judy is a great example. 10 years later, here she is. We'll be hearing more about the success behind it.

[00:26:24] Judi: And it is, and you know what, even though, even though it was a hard loss and a tough time, there, there are little things, like my stepfather, the day I was taking my tap, he was having tests done at the hospital, and I was visiting him, and he's like, we both got a test today, I'm gonna wish you luck.

I mean, he was going through medical testing, I was just taking the tap. And my father he would just always kind of shake his head at me because he's like, what are you, what are you doing next? And so every time he'd write me a card, he'd write, don't stop, you know, keep going. And I wear this necklace.

And it's his handwriting, like you can go on and have it made up and it's his handwriting and it says don't stop love dad. So every now and then you're like, I'll be playing with this. It's, it's, it's my reminder, you know, that they're, they're, they're, they're supporting me or making fun of me or telling me it's about time, whatever they did.

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And they did all of the above. But I feel it. I feel the support.

[00:27:25] Steph: Well, tell me, because during Host Week for those that haven't tuned in, there's, we have interview sessions where we interview host agencies and consortia. And then we have EduSpotss in the latter half of the day. And those are kind of educational, like little bites of education, like 20 to 30 minutes.

And for you, you said that those were equally as important for you. And they were huge for you to actually get started. So what about those? Because I think it's easy to focus on the interviews when you're new, but what about the EduSpotss were helpful to you?

[00:27:57] Judi: So, you know, when you start to think about it, if you're thinking about it enough to actually watch.

Things on Host Week, you know, you need a host Most of us we're we're too new and you know green behind the ears and you know We don't understand a lot of that stuff. So we need that host guidance that that comes without saying But the edgy spots showed so many different facets of the business and it was the creative element so it was the Oh, you could do that?

Oh, oh, I thought, really? Like, I was learning about people were sending gifts and who was doing video stuff and that people had podcasts and who had these little, so like the things that matter the most to me in my life, you know, are my family, my photos. And travel like those are my three my big three that the whole world that you know If Garfield made something ever happened here, what would you grab first?

I'd grab my pictures like that's those and I'm like I can incorporate all of them into travel. This is great, you know so it it really it it balanced out the Do I really want to go and apply for LLCs and worry about taxes and worry about accounting and worry about you know Although no disrespect to the number crunchers, but all that all that, you know dry information Being able to be like this is my business and I can operate it the way I want and look at all these people Doing things that they love and putting their own little spin on it.

And that's why I love I love that balance

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[00:29:31] Steph: Yeah there. I I think the EduSpots are a great way to see different Ways people have applied their skill sets to their companies and thing that things that they enjoy. Exactly,

[00:29:44] Judi: exactly.

[00:29:45] Steph: Well, okay. So you also ended up signing up for our Accelerator course, the seven day setup.

So we have the free seven day setup, which is emails. And I think you signed up for that in like 2014, right? The email sequence, and then. The Accelerator course is more in depth. It has videos, things like that. So what about the, the course was attractive to you and then did it live up to the hype?

[00:30:09] Judi: Okay. So A, what was attractive is there was a variety of ways to learn.

I'm very independent. I'm very self sufficient. But I love the fact that there was videos. I didn't have to just read, read, read, read, read, read, you know, that I had just gone through that with the TAF. I, I had videos that I could do on my own time. Everybody has a different schedule. I was still working my full time job.

So, I would take my different downtime or I'd block off different ones to go through the video portions. It had lots of samples. I think that was cool. Like, I mean, I was forever grateful that you gave us items to start with, you know, whether it would be a feedback form or whether it would be a grid on how to choose your host agency questions to ask or accounting forms.

So it had everything. Did it live up to the hype? Absolutely. The other thing too, is that because I followed you from 2014, you had that trustworthy, it's, I was already a trusted source, so I wasn't having to go and vet a different vendor. I've already learned from you and learned from the, you know, with the different articles and stuff that you post.

And then I was able to, it was almost like. It was like you were talking to me. Okay, Judy. That's enough here. Sign up. And I'm like, okay. You know, it was definitely something that allowed me. To be accountable, I got to meet other people in the same boat as me. Yeah. And I got to meet them face to face.

That was really nice. Instead of some group chat that goes on forever, it just being able to see each other on our our buzz sessions or ask questions along the way that it was, it was, it had a little bit of everything. It didn't, it didn't overwhelm you in one direction or the other. It had a little bit of everything.

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And so, yeah, I, I can't, I know I'm talking to you, but I can't say I say it enough to everybody else, you know, that it was, it's a phenomenal course and it really keeps you accountable and keeps you going. So yeah, I, I, it definitely lived up to the hype and I'm so grateful for it because it brought me. I would have done on my own here a lot faster than I would have done on my own.

[00:32:26] Steph: Well, that's that's perfect, Judy. I really think that the course, you know, we very, we're very cognizant about making them piecemeal so that you're I think the longest video is 5 to 6 minutes because attention spans are short and we're just trying to get home one point to you.

And then in terms of the resources we have the resources. Some of them are from the site, but they're enhanced. And then some of them are exclusive. I think there's like 80 different resources within there. So there's a ton and there's everything's all laid out for you. So we'll link to the seven day setup course.

And if you can hear the squeaking, that is my dog is very excited about the Accelerator course.

[00:33:10] Building Clientele

[00:33:10] Steph: you signed up for the course in February after Host Week finished you. You opened your doors June 1st, you closed down your first booking June 27th. And you were, you were, I remember in our buzz sessions, which are a small group video calls, you were originally planning kind of a soft launch but then you, you had this second booking.

That's a great case study and how to build up a book of business at a travel agency, because it was for a honeymoon couple that was working with another. advisor that was that ghosted them. This was July. I think their trip was October. So tell us how this one Botched honeymoon couple that came to you for help how that turned into a zillion

[00:33:58] Judi: bookings.

So, Yeah, I got my first booking and I was nervous but excited and when you're first launching There's so many questions that you're like, all right it's my niche and you worry about that and then I got a Facebook message from a parent who knew me that her child, when our kids were in sports together, their, their travel advisor ghosted them and they're supposed to go on a honeymoon in October, early October.

And so I said, she goes, can you help them? I'm like, sure. So she's like, Brian, talk to her. So then next thing I know, I talked to them and I found out they, Wanted Vietnam and I was just point blank honest. I said listen. I know nothing about me I said, but I will work to find out I said, and I will do everything I can researching and whatnot.

I says to get you and help you guys up. And they're like, please, we need the help. And that opened the door to a, I actually met a supplier that I really worked well with. We're still good friends today. I actually just hired him again. And then it just, it mushroomed from there. They were excited. They opened the door to different things that they didn't think they were going to do.

They came back. They absolutely loved what I did. They told people at the wedding about me while one person was at the wedding, they reached out to me. And then I ended up booking them a trip in December and then two more people reached out that they were sharing. And then now at this point, the first line of.

Referrals is now become a second line of referrals. Now they're sending people to me from other parts that were like, I have people in New York, I have people in Washington, DC, and it's like, well, I'm going to date myself, but it was that like old Fabergé commercial. And then she told two friends and so on and so on.

And that's where it's just mushroom right in there. Like I've in there are phenomenal people to work with. I love this, the lineage that goes with all these referrals and it's just really grown and you never know. You never know. And if I said, I'm sorry, that's not my niche or if I said, I'm not ready for it.

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Like how different could it be? And it's really, and they took a chance on me too. So it just really, you know, the referrals are unreal. If you just. I, I always go with full honesty, sometimes probably TMI, but I'm, I come right out and like, this is what I do, but I will work for you and I won't stop until we get you what you need.

And so, yeah, it's, it's really grown and I, and the strangest referrals come out of the strangest places is what I've learned. Yeah, I think you're

[00:36:49] Steph: also yours is interesting because this is the way so many advisors build their business is through the referrals and the repeat clients, which is why it takes you typically a little bit longer to get started because normal people book, you know, nine, maybe 12 months out, but you had this honeymoon couple that needed something in three months.

And so yours got started on this, you know, really fast rate. And it just exploded from there. And so for, for new advisors. I think important to keep in mind what you're saying is that anybody can be an amazing super referrer for you. And, you know, to, we all have our niches that we're kind of focused on as a general rule, but to be open minded as well.


[00:37:36] Judi: Yes. Yes. I can't say that enough. And it really, it's just, like I said, I mean, I even had one referral recently to a place that I'm not truly overly familiar with. But after the conversation and the phone call, they switched to a place that I'm very familiar with and it's a tent and it's a better fit.

So we just don't know, I always say, just go for the conversation and just ask all the crazy questions. I really, I've learned that a lot through different edgy spots and other things is just sometimes it's, I ask them, what's your favorite trip? Tell me why. Yeah.

[00:38:16] Steph: Yeah. Well, one of the things I've noticed, if you've got a ton of fabulous client testimonials on your site already for, so this is February, so you've been in business eight months how do you, because the challenge for advisors is getting those reviews.

So how do you ask for your reviews and actually get your clients to fill them out for you?

[00:38:38] Judi: I'm very lucky. So, because I also have. I'm a little backlogged. I have another eight more. I have a hundred percent testimony. So I've used chart form that came with the heart, the feedback form. I use that. And I tweaked it to my own.

I have it divided up where half of it is them reviewing their trip. And the other half is them reviewing me, you know, what did they find helpful? What did they not find helpful? Cause I, I always want to constantly improve and so I don't send it out right away. I don't attach it. So I'll, I'll send a welcome home email and then I wait a week.

Cause when you first get home, your inbox is overloaded the last, you know, and not to be mean, but I'm, they don't need me at that moment. So they're like, yeah, okay. I'll talk to her later. And they got other things to do that are more pressing. So, and then another week later, I send the email out asking them, please, if they wouldn't mind giving me some feedback and it would be very helpful for future trips and so forth.

And then every time a person arrives home, I have a box of note cards. And so I leave, I put a note card and I address it and I throw it in their file. And the reason I do that is because we live in a generation right now of where everybody's entire memories, and that's the name of my business, all of their memories are on a phone.

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And very few people would do anything with them. So what I had started doing from the very beginning is I always ask them, Oh, you know, good luck on that trip. When I send them that, you know, Bon Voyage and send me, share a picture or two with me, I'd love to see how it's going. Every one of them has done that.

So what I do is I take the picture and I print it on my little home home inkjet printer. It's not that great. But I print it out and I put it in there. I'd send them a little. Thank you. A handwritten. Thank you. Now when I slide the picture in and I said here, put this on your refrigerator. Too many of us leave our great memories on our phone.

It's just something to remind you of your great trip. And I feel like every time it seems to be that when that yeah. Note card arrives to them, all of a sudden feedback forms show up. Ah, that's so smart. I'm seeing a little connection with that, you know. I might send the feedback form and I might be a little delayed and finally get the note card out.

And then all of a sudden the feedback form. You know, shows up. I'm like, well, what made them look at it two weeks later? Oh, they probably got my, my card. Yeah. Well, like a personal

[00:41:19] Steph: touch. No, definitely. And I'm going to link to a past TAC episode with Ashley Morris with Alpaca Your Bags Travel, who also has a really high rate of clients filling out her referral form for those of you that are interested in that.

Well, yeah. Judy, let's give people kind of an example. So what was the largest group that you've booked so far? Cause you're, you're specializing in kind of small group travel is kind of a focus for you

[00:41:46] Judi: as well. So as a travel advisor, my largest group is 16. I have 16 right now. They're, they're doing an all inclusive in the Caribbean.

I have booked a few smaller groups, mostly 10. I average kind of 10. I have like birthday parties and stuff. I, I think my wheelhouse or, you know, my circles. of networking circles fall a lot in either my friends and the different parents of my children in that realm. They're all at the age where they're starting to travel on their own or they're celebrating milestone birthdays.

You know, they're done paying for the kids. And then the other wheelhouse I have is. Sort of my kid's ages, which are that mid to late twenties. And so I get a lot of like honeymooners and stuff like that in that area. So those seems to be the two wheelhouses, but that older group, they're doing a lot more of like, you know what?

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We're going to go away and celebrate. We're going to do something a little extra special. So I'm, I'm doing a lot of that. I also, in the process, I have five cabins going to Alaska. And I have another group that it's doing the Mediterranean. So, you know, I'm, my wheelhouse is around 10, but my largest is 16.

[00:42:58] Steph: Okay. I think for new advisors, it's, it's really easy to focus on networking, to find clients when they first get started, because that's. It's like number one important to run an agency, but it's also, you know, it's difficult to find clients. So they put most of their energy into that, but that's just one piece of the puzzle because for you, you make a big effort to network within the industry on the, the business to business side.

So, you know, with other advisors, with your host agency, with your vendors. And you do that both online and in person. So how does that, that business to business networking lead to a better client experience? Why is that like an integral piece of the puzzle?

[00:43:43] Judi: It's actually very crucial to it because. You know, especially let's start with just like suppliers and vendors.

They do I don't even know the numbers, but I'm gonna they do a billion quotes all you know, especially during the season You know, you want to stand out from the other person, you know, I try to give them a little bit more feedback I try to qualify my clients really well so that I'm providing them with Almost too much detail, but a lot of, you know, the details so they can make their lives a little easier and a little more wiggle room, you know, want to just, you know, say to a client, you know, say to a vendor, you know, Oh, I have three people and they're going to Italy and they want to see Venice, Rome and Florence.

[00:44:26] Steph: These are the dates. Yeah. So what, what kind of info do you put in to make sure that, oh, I put in what they

[00:44:31] Judi: Concise enough. But yeah, so I say these are their dates. This is what they're looking for. This is what's most important to them. I said, you know, they like this, but this is what they're a little worried about.

2023-Judi Lombardi memories on the move travel vol 28 TAC

They're concerned. This one likes music a lot is maybe a night event here. I get really detailed because my conversations with my clients are really detailed. Mm-Hmm. . I wanna know who they are. I don't know. Wanna know what they wanna buy. I wanna know who they are because. You're selling the why. You're not just selling a trip.

My client is, is my customer and there, I want to know why they want to go there, what they want to do, what are they hoping to experience? How much are they willing to step out of the box? And if you can provide that to the vendors, it makes their job a little easier. I'm always open up everything with, you know, especially if I have to go back and say, can you change this?

You know, thank you for your efforts, you know, call them by name. Ask questions. Don't, you know, tell them, Oh, you know, if you get a chance, like it's a lot of it's just wording that maybe that's the, the speech therapist in me, but I feel like sometimes, especially during the busy season, we're always like, you know, you'd be short little blurbs and it's like, you know.

Every now and then it's really nice, you know, when somebody says back to me. Wow. I'm really happy. I found you. Okay You just made my day, you know, I can work a little harder You know instead of someone saying yes No, or just set like those little comments go a long way and it just gives you a personal connection It's you know attend industry events, you know introduce yourself to somebody even if you never plan on selling their product because you don't know You know, I don't have anybody going to Tahiti, but I remember having a pretty lengthy conversation with the guy from Paul Godwin Cruises, you know, it's, it's just it's, it's a huge industry, but a small industry.

[00:46:18] Steph: People move around a lot, too. Yeah.

[00:46:21] Judi: And I just think that that's important. And I. I think like even industry with suppliers, but with other peers and other, you know, travel advisors, you go on to like these Facebook groups and some of them just so phenomenal and some of them. Oh, my goodness. The amount of information that people are willing to share.

Which takes time for them to learn that information and takes their effort and they're sharing it, you know, be grateful provide. I know you knew, but you might have some information back, you know, comment on them. Thank you. You know, sometimes if you, I read something and I'm like, wow, and I'm writing down really good information about cool hotels in Munich.

I will comment on that, you know, thank you so much for sharing, you know, really appreciate this or I don't know. It's just, it's relationship building. Yeah, it's a

[00:47:09] Steph: relationship. Yeah. And so for those of you that are newer, one of the frustrations for people in Facebook groups that are more experienced is when someone posts, I'm looking for four people to go to Mexico.

And where would you recommend they go? And so I'll post a great article that Nikki Miller posted up. Well, actually, I'm going to post up, Okay. Two one is we'll put in the show notes. Nikki Miller has one on how to ask questions to your peers in the travel industry. That's fantastic. Another one is an EduSpots that just happened this year with Whitney Schindler, and she talks about questions to ask your DMC to make sure that it's going to be a good fit for you and your client.

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And Judy, I know for. When, even if you get a quote from someone and you don't end up booking with them, you still reach out to them, right?

[00:48:00] Judi: Yes. And follow up. Never leave anybody hanging, you know, let them know they can close the file if that's the case, you know Let them know that you know, otherwise they're just sitting there with their I don't know how they do it in their own business But I'm sure they've got a bunch of open accounts and let them know it's alright, you know Thank you very much.

My clients decided to move into a different direction or might they put the trip on hold? I just actually had to do that there was a a school strike here teaches one on strike and the family had to halt the plans because You know, now they, they weren't going to be able to, I reached out to, to, you know, the vendor that I was working with and I'm like, I'm really sorry, you know, this is what's happening.

You just let them know it's, it's little bits of information and, and it's funny, I am new and I do cringe sometimes when I'm in those groups and I see the questions. What's really interesting, if you're afraid you're somebody who's doing that, look at your responses. So if you were to look at somebody who asked the question, if there's 35 responses, they ask the question correctly.

If there's one or none, then, then they're at, then that's, that's the, to me, what I read into it is that that is what my peers are saying. Like, give us more information or go do your own homework. You know, they're, they're still, they're not there as teachers. They're, they're, yeah. As peers, because they're running their own business and you want them to sit there and type.

I mean, some of them type so much information, like, bless you. So, you know, and I try to. Where I can help, I try to put my two cents in.

[00:49:32] Steph: Yeah, get back a little bit.

[00:49:34] Judi: Yeah. Yeah. And you have to, you have to.

[00:49:37] Steph: Yeah, because we were, we were all new at one time in the industry. And so I but I, I do think it's key if you're a new advisor to know how to ask the questions and frame them, because even if you don't know the questions to ask, then ask, how do I.

Ask a question or read this article. We're going to link to because or or read what everybody else is doing and get a feel for it before you start asking

[00:50:02] Judi: exactly or even just start out with telling the community what work you've already done. Show them you've done some work. We're new, but we're not, we, we, we, we do know what direction we should be looking in, even if we don't have all the answers,

Judi Lombardi Memories on the Move Alaska09d-Juneau-Dog Sled-Camp GlacierGroup2

[00:50:21] Marketing/Operations

[00:50:21] Steph: well, let's move into, I kind of want to check in on your marketing and operations, because one of the things you did when you first started out you put a coupon up on your site that waived the fees through December when you started in June.

And then, so I want to hear what was your thinking behind that and did it. Turn out like you planned.

[00:50:41] Judi: Oh, better than I planned. So when you're starting a business, there's so many different things that we're told to think about and put into place. And one of them was like, okay, I work really hard on my website.

And I'm like, okay, I need something that makes somebody want to fill out. The form and sign up for my newsletter, you know, I'm going to collect emails and I didn't have time to make it too many other things. I'm like, what am I going to put? That's going to make somebody want to put their, their email in there.

So I ended up giving away a coupon for free travel fees because, Number two, I didn't have time to figure out what my fee structure was going to be. So I said, okay I can solve two problems with with one move. So I put a coupon called it a grand opening special I said that you're going to be free travel planning fees Basically, it was a way to say, take a chance on me.

It's not going to cost you anything. And then, you know, they could, they had to put their email in to get their little coupon. And it also showed them that there is a fee. So if you like what you saw and you like everything that you, you know, you got, when you come back the next time, you'll know that, you know, the value's there.

[00:52:01] Steph: It was a perfect

[00:52:02] Judi: idea. Oh, it was. It was just like, okay. And then I didn't have to worry about creating some packing list or some guide for, for a region that maybe my client wasn't interested in. So I'm like, okay, this works. Yeah, it was great.

[00:52:16] Steph: Well, your website. Speaking of the website, it's incredibly in depth.

And the fees for those that are interested in fish is a very in depth fee section, which we will link to. But how did you come up with all the content for it and organize?

[00:52:33] Judi: So the organized part is I found other people's websites. I did not plagiarize, but I found this structure cause I didn't know what I was doing.

Honestly, I am a paper and pencil girl. So technology and I have a love hate relationship. But I found different websites that I found very easy to use or kind of like the setup. Like I didn't, I'm like, okay, what are you supposed? I kind of knew what you're supposed to put, but I didn't know there was an order to it.

So I kind of, guided out going, okay, I need a homepage and I need a planning page. And then some people like have like destination page. I called it an inspiration page. If you actually look, I've been in business eight months and my frequently asked questions still says coming soon. My blog just launched in January.

I mean, everything, it, as long as you know how to do coming soon, you're good. But I just kind of had it set up and then where did I come up with the content truthfully? This, I worked really hard and a long time on it, but for anybody who's new. I, I really recommend doing it first, at least write it up because you write from your heart and you write from your passion and you write for why are you doing this?

If you're doing this, because for me it was like, I just, I love traveling. I get so much out of it and I want to see so many people travel that it was easier. So I wrote it up. I wrote it from a very passionate. point of view. I wrote it from sharing my story. You know, I'm always somebody who wears my heart on my sleeve.

Nobody has to second guess my emotions. They're always right there. And then I have a, I have a daughter who's very skilled. My middle daughter is very skilled at writing. So she's my copy editor. So she found really kind of fancy ways to manipulate some of the words. Never changed my voice, but you know, she's like, Fixed a few grammatical errors along the way, but yeah, that's how I came up with it you your personality needs to come through on your website And if you don't write it, or at least, even if you want to hire somebody, I was lucky I had my daughter, but if you want to hire somebody to spit shine it, but write it from your personal view and your passion of why do you want to do this.

Not just I need a career, not just, and honestly, even if you're not really, really sure why, you'll figure it out as you're going.

[00:54:55] Steph: Mm hmm. Yeah, it's a great thought process.

[00:54:57] Judi: Yeah, it just, you kind of put it, and that's really where a big chunk of it came from. It's also where I came up with the idea of, like, I smell, sell small groups, but it's like, how do I kind of categorize that?

Because, you know, the world is huge, 193 countries. So how do I figure this out? And I kind of categorized. The trips that I'm best at organizing. So I have wild wanderings and European escapades and cruising adventures because it's very itinerary based. I may not be able to tell you what the biggest and best ship is.

I may not be able to tell you how many different restaurants are on one. I can find that information out for sure. But I can definitely tell you what's a great itinerary, what it's going to offer for you. What new places can you see? Is it in port long enough? You know, I so I sort of, you know. Kind of focused in on those five areas.

[00:55:50] Steph: Yeah, I definitely check out Judy's website because the, the organization and kind of these like wild destination, these categories, she puts them on are very unique as well as it very much comes across that in a non threatening way that she's there to help travel advisors. Like, she's very passionate about helping travelers, not travel advisors, travelers who, yeah, that, that.

maybe comfortable traveling or, you know, they don't want to feel stupid and she does it in a very approachable way. Which I think, you know, is a hump for people. They don't want to look stupid. So we'll link to that. And then you have something called a tickler file and I would love to hear more about that.

[00:56:33] Judi: So a ticker tickler file is a long term plan. So we talk about. Workflows and task lists and all these little buzz phrases in the industry. Those are great for, okay, today I got to set up this email. I need to do these insurance quotes. I need to, you know, the tickler filer is, what is your vision down the road?

What do you want to accomplish and kind of put a date on it, put a timeline on it. So my tickler filer was to launch the blog by January 1st. I was three days late, but it got launched. A tickler filer, In this industry, and even in our buzz sessions, when you have a lot of newbies talking at the same time, I feel like everybody, including myself, got stuck at a certain like, Oh yeah, this is good.

Like, it's literally the ADHD. It's, you know, it's like, Oh, I gotta spend time doing this. Oh, I gotta build this. Oh my god, I gotta do that. And you're so excited, and you're so passionate about wanting to do it all, but if you don't have a place to put it, and not lose it. Like that's the big key is like you have otherwise you have a spread of notes all everywhere and you're like, oh What this would be good have a file.

This is what I want So I have a file on my newsletters, which I have not started yet But I really love that edgy spot this year on newsletters. So very excited. That's next on my tickler But any different ideas you have that's the creative part of talking like you can get really excited about being really creative one of my bigger ideas in my tickler filer is I do, I struggle with with fees.

I don't know why, because the amount of effort and research I put in, I have value but, you know, I still always feel bad about like, well, that's too much. Oh, okay. I want you to travel. So I think it's sort of a catch 22 in my five categories of travel. I am going to work together with five different So conservation companies and non profits.

So, I'm going to advertise in that. This is one of my future tickler file. Is that each one of these, if you book a wild wanderings, 10 percent of the fee that you pay to me will be donated to the wildlife warriors. That's an organization around the world that protects the animals against poachers. That's what they do.

If you book a cruising adventure, that's going to go to the ocean blue. That's that, that group that cleans up the oceans. You know, you see them, they make the bracelets for the, you know, out of water bottles and stuff. So each one, if you book a rediscovering America, 10 percent of my fee. that you pay will go towards the wildlife.

I mean, we'll go toward towards the tunnel to towers. I'm a, I'm a military family. My dad was a Marine. My brother was air force. I have two daughters on the coast guard. So I'm, you know, and I have a son who's in, you know, in nursing school. So tunnel to towers covers my, the military and covers the first responders.

So that's what that will go towards. So that's, you know, in my tickler file down the road, so that your travel can mean something In addition to what you gain, what you enjoy, what you experience, and then if a little piece of it can go and help an organization to maintain that my European escapades, I'm going to do something with probably UNESCO, the preservation.

So each one of them is going to kind of, so it kind of helps you that if you're booking in that you'd like that. So then you would probably support. Yeah,

[01:00:05] Steph: it definitely would make me more likely to be like this. I love that their values are where my values are.

[01:00:11] Judi: Yeah. So it just kind of, and it coincides with each one of those categories.

A lot easier. So that's in my tickler filer. I want to host a trip. Like you said, there's a lot of people who. Want to travel and they just get nervous and that's okay. It's Normal and my tour guiding background my teaching background. I'm like, I'm gonna host a trip I want them to be able to be independent.

I'm gonna still want them to be able to do what they want to do Maybe I was like set up a little table in the lobby of different places and help them go off You know, this group's doing a walking tour that groups over there doing segways, you know And just sort of be in the country with them And, and opening the door to travel.

So those are two big things in my tickler files, three, the newsletter, the conservation and hosting a trip. But that's what a tickler filer is. It's what you want on the road.

[01:01:03] Steph: I love it. And we will link to the, I just bought that Judy referenced about newsletters. And, you know, one of the things to point out, Judy mentioned this earlier, but even though she doesn't have a newsletter, putting up the newsletter box to opt in on your site.

Because if it takes you two years to get your newsletter up, you have two years of emails, even if it's only a handful, but you have two years of emails that you can work with now. So that's a great idea. And I know that for new advisers, one of the challenges is. The fee conundrum. Do you or do you not charge fees?

How much do you charge for them? So I know you charge fees. What's your thought process? Like, what prompted you to do that? And any advice?

[01:01:50] Judi: So, yeah It prompted me because I kind of correlated a little bit in some small way with like the real estate you know,

[01:01:57] Steph: business agents. Yeah.

[01:02:00] Judi: Who do I work for?

I know who I am and I know who I am as a person, but it is very hard because it is a business and I am trying to live and make money off the business. But with that said, there's a great deal of research that goes in. And that's why I think most of us use the term travel advisor more than we use travel agent because I am with you from beginning to end.

You know, I am doing the deep dive. I am trying to find, you know, what you're looking for at the price point that you're looking for it at. I am trying to make sure that you understand, you know, what is the currency like? What is the tipping like? Where would be the best thing for me to do? I have a email that goes out about, you know, I keep put all the downloads together.

All right here open this up sit there with your phone and download these apps because these are going to be crucial for you You know walking them through those stages that all takes time money and effort And so therefore it's beyond just the booking. So yes you could go to one of the big box and book You know, here at your hotel and book your reaffirm and call it a day.

But you're not going to get that personal touch. You're not going to have that person to bounce questions off of, you know, it's almost like we're travel Google, you know, instead of just doing it, they just ask me. So it's really trying the hardest part with the fees is trying to explain. And show and demonstrate, you can demonstrate it easily, but at the beginning is trying to explain, you know, that is value and that is untapped value.

And honestly, even with the fees, you're still getting so much more because we get it in the forms of different perks and we get it in different forms. I think the hardest part was that I just always try to save a buck and, you know, for my clients. So when I related to the Real estate. I'm working for my client.

So if I have If I, let's say I'm piecemealing a trip together, so I might find one hotel that, Oh, okay. Here on this website it is this price and here on this web website, it's quite a bit more, but I get 12 percent there and I only get 10 percent here. So I'm just fine. I want to, the fees also to me and I tell my clients I'm working for you.

So the fee means that I'm going to look for the best deal for you. Not to be like. Try to, you know, they always say that even real estate you have, you have, you have seller brokers and you have buyer brokers, you know, so it's just one of those things that it's, you know, it keeps me and it, I think it helps them to, you know, they know, I know

[01:04:34] Steph: you, you mentioned that you, you know, for so many new advisors, even if you're charging a fee, there's still this like, kind of uncertainty about it.

But for you, it was really solidified when. I mean, every advisor has this happen to them, usually relatively soon after, but you had a client that used all of your knowledge. And then didn't work with you.

[01:04:57] Judi: And it was, and it was unnecessary. So let's be clear. People can change their mind. I think what bothered me the most on that one was I answered and I usually try to keep everything via email.

She was texting me on my business line. I would answer, it was a change this, change that. I'd get the quotes. Then it was come back. Oh, no, we need to move this. Move that. We need a bigger room, smaller room, this and that. But I went through every hoop under the sun, you know, really fast and quickly in the timeline.

And I got her a price. That was the exact same price as an online. And then she booked online. Yeah. And I was just like, that's not necessary. You didn't even save a penny.

[01:05:41] Steph: Yeah. I, and I know too, for you, you have your booking log so that you can look at the trips and look at the profit margins and you have a fee if they book their hotels and you're just booking the tours.

And part of that, I mean, that's why I was saying your fee page is so comprehensive and, by looking at these things, you can see where you're like, this is not making, I'm losing money by hooking this. Yeah,

[01:06:05] Judi: I've had people at like the Airbnbs and stuff and they'll, they book their own and they'll ask me and honestly, it's like they'll ask you to figure out the tours in between and especially in Europe.

Well, tell us you're making like 9 on this one, 10 on that one. They're not big money makers. And so when I looked at one of them that I put a lot of work and effort and changes into, and I'm like, at the end, I think it'd be like 84. I'm like, okay, we need to adjust this, but that's what it is. You kind of, you as a new advisor, and I keep saying that don't, don't wait for the perfect thing that you envision.

Take it in because you don't know what you don't know yet and you don't know what's going to work and what's not going to work for you and your business. And for my business, I seem to get a real lot of Europe. I had a lot of people who want to really kind of do some things on their own and that's great.

You know, you don't want private transfers everywhere. You'd like to have fun on the trains and so forth. And that's great, but I also need to make some money too, because trying to find the right thing that fits in the right spot, that fits in the right area is a time consuming process. So if you book your own hotels, there's, you know, I just say you have to at least book two hotels with me if it's.

I forget how it's worded in there. But as long as there's something in there, I mean, and I will tell you, I've had a couple of people who called me last minute who had hotels and they're like, but we'll switch them to your hotel if you want. So, you know, people have been just, I think they just. They start out in one direction, and I seem to get a lot of people a bit overwhelmed.

[01:07:39] Steph: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Well, your, your target market is that moderate price travel. It's not luxury. And then helping people who are new to travel or have only traveled within the all inclusive circuit in Mexico and Caribbean. And so for you, you take a lot of time to make sure that they know what to expect.

Like, Europe is very different than the U. S. and Mexico and Caribbean. So that they're they're feeling comfortable and they your thought process is they're gonna be a lot more likely to try things if they know what to expect. So can you give us just a couple really concrete examples of you doing this and how you built that into your workflow with your clients?

[01:08:22] Judi: So what I do after so after First of all, we start with the trip and what they want. And so they'll tell me everything they want. But I also asked lots of questions about what do you like to do? What do you do for fun? Where you're there? Because you like, I try to think outside the box. Like, for example, like if you're going to go to Italy.

And you're going to do your, I'm going to just go your standard Venice, Florence, Rome. Do you want to do a walking tour of Venice, Florence, Rome? By the time you get to Rome, you're going to be like, your eyes are going to roll in the back of your head. You're going to be sick and tired of architecture.

Like you've got to spice it up. Like life, variety is just, makes it so different. So even if there's an element where, I remember my very, very first time going to Europe, it was just like, how many more churches can I actually look at? Yeah, they're all pretty, but it, You know, it's a lot of information taken.

So I try to think a little bit outside the box. I try to give them, okay, what about a segue tour here? Or this would be really good if you did a canal tour. So I kind of joke around with my clients. It's like house hunters. I give them like, here's one thing that's standard. Here's one thing that's a little kick and here's my out of the box suggestion.

And it is funny because I've had. I would say I have a good 60 percent close on the out of the box. They're like, I never thought about that, but that does sound exciting. So I try to give them a little bit of that, you know, to make it a little bit more exciting because honestly travel is about seeing.

But people want to experience things. They want to feel something, not just go, Oh, that's pretty, you know, that's nice. Yeah. So it just kind of spices it up a little. I will always try to throw in something that allows them to experience. Like if you're in Italy, a cooking class, or if you're not somebody who enjoys cooking that much, that's me.

Then you might want to do like, sort of like a food or a market kind of thing. Or if you're somebody who enjoys music, you know, in Ireland, you might want to do like. An Irish show, like just making sure that there's a little bit more of a variety that opens up that world for them. And then what I'll do is after we, they choose their items, then I walk them step by step.

Okay, you're booked. So then the first thing that comes out is what general international travel. Okay. So if your shopping list, okay, make sure you have an, an adapter, make sure you have like a little front bag or something that you could tuck away, you know, and I have a whole bunch of little things. Make sure women have a scarf.

If you're going into, you know, different historical places, then I'll send another email and that will be more or less walking them through the apps. You know, on your phone, you know, if you don't have global entry, mobile passport control will make your life easier. This here is available here. What's app so that you can communicate with, you know, different people out there.

So I'll walk through those things. And then I do one. That's just. country or location specific. And Italy, I'll tell them you, you know, depending on how you like your coffee, I am a cream and sugar girl and I want my coffee every morning. I don't know how to order it. So I had to figure out and I didn't want them to waste their money buying four different types of coffees till they found the one that makes them happy.

So I would, I'd write out a whole coffee thing, or I would write out, you know, etiquette in an Italian restaurant. You know I feel like in America with wine drinkers, you know, we tend to, and I'm not a wine drinker, but they tend to want to show their knowledge. They have specific wines they enjoy, but when you're in Italy, you really want to kind of defer to the, you know, the waiters there, they know what they're talking about, it's their region.

It's. They, they know far more than we can ever dream of knowing. So I just give them all those little helpful hints, you know, make sure you have coins, you might go into a bathroom that requires you stranded, stranded otherwise, exactly. So it's all those little things. And I will say that my very first client, she emailed me by the second one.

Because Italy has a lot of extra stuff by the second email, she's like, I am loving these. I would have been the first one to say, do you have any garlic bread? I'm like, no, it doesn't exist in Italy. So it's those little helpful hints that just make you feel like you kind of know, all right, I can do this.

I can fudge my way through here. And I'm just a, I'm just a, a WhatsApp message away. You know, and that's where I think I think people want to know that tipping currency, you know, all that kind of stuff.

[01:12:41] Steph: Well, let's see. I think one last thing for marketing and operations. One of the challenges for new advisors is most advisors are on a budget and you're looking at the technology.

For your everyone's talking about CRMs. They're talking about itinerary builders. They're talking about email marketing programs for you. What do you feel like was the most essential piece of tech that? Everybody needs when they're starting out.

[01:13:10] Judi: It's got to be the CRM. You have to purchase the CRM that will work for you.

There's so many free things out there that you can, you know, sign up for the bare bones, you know, the email marketing campaign. I'm, I'm on a free. I'm still on a free program. I, when I get, when I, when I opened that tickler file, I'll figure that one out down the road. But right now my CRM is my be all end all because you can create.

Itineraries out of there. You can log in all your information in there. You can log your money in there. There's it. It's the thing that you need to work the most with you. And I think sometimes one of the messages that I got crystal clear was about how this this piece of technology is so valuable, but was to choose the one that was best for me, not the one that my host agency necessarily offered.

And that's why, you know, a lot of the times it's very easy to sit there and say, Oh, well, if I sign up with this host agency, they offer this tool and that tool will make sure those tools work for you. I'm a small group person. I need a CRM that was going to make my small groups work well. I also am somebody who I knew that I was going to end up building trips.

It wasn't going to be a lot of. Just like the resorts and the airfare. I was going to be building trips So I needed something that I can make into some sort of itinerary But the way I like to read it So, you know, it's that kind of thing and something that has an element of automation and I got all that out of my CRM It allowed me to do it.

So I think that is where it's crucial The one mistake I made is I dragged my feet And so, yes, I dragged my feet because why pick up the extra monthly expense when I wasn't really launching or had people yet. And the problem was, is that I unexpectedly, there was a meme that went around and it showed. A skeleton sitting in front of a keyboard and it says just me waiting for my first travel client Like it was a joke because they say, you know takes a while to build up.

Everybody preps you for it And so I did not expect what I what happened to me your soft lunch was not

[01:15:21] Steph: so soft No,

[01:15:23] Judi: and then all of a sudden i'm getting hit and i'm like, I don't have workflows or what's an automation And so I wish I spent a little bit more time and I saved what? 25 So if you can get yourself familiar and set up with that and the second piece of advice is when you do create your workflow, don't get too attached to it, you can change it.

[01:15:46] Steph: You change it. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Well, we're going to link to first of all, there's a Friday 15 on when that's our other podcast. If you've never listened to it when to get a CRM and itinerary builder in the lifetime of your agency. And then we've also got an article on itinerary builder comparisons, which isn't the CRM, but is usually another tech tool that people usually invest in once they get enough clients that it makes sense.

So Exactly.

[01:16:15] Advice for Newbies

[01:16:15] Steph: Well, let's move in to, because you're newer, you have a great perspective. Let's move into the next segment, which is advice for newbies. So I would love to hear what are two pieces of advice for the new advisors that you wish you had been told?

[01:16:33] Judi: The first piece of advice that I wish, I wish I was told, I kind of figured out on my own, but I wish I was told is you're not going to have all the answers, but you need to know where to find them.

And I think that's a crucial. Thing to know and really own. You have to own it because what I'm, what I was seeing and myself included, I'm super organized. I'm, you know, a little bit on the perfectionist, you know, I have the most organized junk draw. People make fun of me. My friends make fun of me.

If they see this, they'll be making fun of me because. Everything's labeled. And yet you, you can't be that straight and narrow. And so it's okay. You're not going to know everything. And I think I've seen a few people and a few of my peers that have been in the course with me getting stuck on trying to organize.

Before they launch and that analysis paralysis and I, and after, after I was sort of told to launch because I had no more excuses left. Thank you, Rita,

[01:17:41] Steph: gently. We were gently, gently telling you to launch very gently.

[01:17:46] Judi: You just asked a question, but why aren't you launching? I'm like, I have no more answers.

But I think it was that point that when I launched, it was. You think you need to have every answer and take that off the table. You need to have a general flow. You need to organize it as generally as you can, but it will get topsy turvy. You'll take lefts and rights. You know, you might launch in one direction and your first customers that come at you might be something that you're like, what I'm doing cruises now.

And then all of a sudden you weren't prepared for it because you took all your time and effort and energy and focused in on the one thing you wanted to sell. I feel like in due time. My favorites will come in so far. They're starting to trickle in a little my favorites Africa. But little by little, you know, it's just nowhere to go though.

That's the secret. The advice is nowhere to go. If I don't know this, where should, where would I look? You know, and whether your host agency has. Their own private group. I get so much information out of there. Different Facebook groups. There are Facebook groups that are like travel advisors helping travel advisors and all these other different ones But honestly like sometimes those are so overwhelming I am in a few traveling travel advisors selling Europe travel advisor selling Africa and you know It's just the details and the information and at least they'll help point you in a direction So those things podcasts, you know, so just know we had to find the information But don't think you have to have it all in there.

And the second thing is suppliers I really, really wished that I knew more and I really wished I knew how to know more. And I'm somebody who's traveled extensively across the spectrum of styles. I have done the independent, you know, I have done the FITs. I have done the cruises. I have done the all inclusives.

I have done the tour groups. I have led the tour groups and yet I still knew only this much of what's out there. So are you

[01:19:50] Steph: saying to take like supplier trainings and webinars or what are you?

[01:19:55] Judi: I would do smaller webinars. I think smaller. I don't think you need the full battle, but it's the case of like you have somebody who's like, okay, I want to go here.

You don't know sometimes. You you hear people talk about their favorites, but their favorites might not be in the price point that you're looking for So if somebody sits there and says, oh I have this great dmc in this country blah blah blah And then you're like my people can't afford that like, okay.

So what else is there? So I just find myself constantly scratching To figure out there's got to be somebody that falls because I'm in a price point. That's not very common. You have to hold backpackers and you know, they're hostile world. And then you have the luxury travel and I fall smack dab in the middle.

I have like Joe Schmo who just wants to go see some cool things I saw in a book. And that's the group that I'm trying to get at. And so I'm, I'm, I struggle sometimes. So I'm finding myself doing most of it myself, which will prevent me from scaling, which will prevent me. You know, it's, and it's tiresome, but I think that that's where I wish I knew a little bit more.

I'm finding little bits and pieces. I think that's why I appreciate suppliers and vendors so much. I find them like, yay. Okay. What else can we do? But yeah, I think that's where I'm just, I wish I knew a little bit more.

[01:21:12] Steph: Yeah, that's great. Those are great pieces of advice for new advisors. The thing I will add to that is for those of you are who are like, Judy is saying I need to, to learn more with the suppliers and still haven't launched your agency.

Don't be a perpetual learner because that's a perpetual student, not a travel advisor. So you have to take that leap. At some point in time, you're not going to, no one ever feels ready when they start their business. When I launched her, I was

[01:21:42] Judi: like, Oh God, this is like, it's like.

[01:21:44] Steph: 70 percent done. And I was like, I just need to get it out there.

You know, cause I had been like, I need 15 blogs. I need, you just need to get it out there and then you can start working. Cause the truth is like Judy said, you, you reiterate, you think these workflows are going to be perfect. And then it goes out in the real world and you realize, oh, my clients are really confused about that.

Or no one's actually looking at this. And. You reevaluate going from there. So you have to get it out there, you know, in software, they call it the minimum viable product, getting that out there and then seeing, does this even work? And if it does, then you can work on improving it. If it doesn't, you work on like making it work.

[01:22:26] Judi: And that's, and it's so true too. That's why I said, like for me, the CRM, it's pay the money for the things that pretty much aren't going to change. And the things that are going to make it more difficult to switch over. So perfect example, I started opening up accounts at first under my Gmail address before I got my full.

Well, you know how painful it is to switch everything over now at the point where I go to log in and I'm like, which one was that under? So like pay the money, get your business name, email, get your CRM and then everything else after that is, it's almost like it's. It's like, okay, you'll, you'll tweak and fine tune in a million ways, but those are the big things that you don't want to have to go get too far in.

And then all of a sudden go, I really need to switch this.

[01:23:11] Steph: And that's one of the reasons too, in the Accelerator course that we, we recommend people get the federal employer identification number. Even if you're a sole proprietor, you don't need it. Why we recommend opening up a business bank account because when it comes time for you to change it and you become an LLC, that's when you're so busy and you don't have time because.

What you don't realize is when you're a sole proprietor you can open a personal bank account. And if, but if you get an LLC, you need to open a business bank account and having to change your bank account with everyone and even just setting it up. I mean, it's just a hassle. You don't have to go

[01:23:46] Judi: through.

And if you have tickler files, if you have openings of time, you don't want to redo you want to do. So it's just like get that, that the factual stuff down and the things that aren't going to change. God forbid. Well, we won't go there. We chatted about

[01:24:06] Steph: not learning too much. But having said that, what are two of your favorite places to learn in the industry?

[01:24:15] Judi: My favorite places,

besides HAR, I have to say that besides her, I know, no, I'm not really, this is not, I should feel like there's a disclaimer brought to you by no besides her because that obviously is the key that, you know, got me rolling to actual movement podcasts and Facebook, believe it or not. And no, I believe it.

And, and it's really, you'll sign up for a bunch of podcasts. I mean, a bunch of Facebook groups and I'm finding little by little I'm starting to unsign up. Because there's some that I'm like, wow, this one's really rich with a lot of good content and this one's just a lot of people complaining.

You know, there, there's the gamut. So, but most of them are really good and most of them, you can find a lot of really good information, a lot of good people a lot of good opportunities. I actually applied to a, A forum, a European traveler forum that I found out through one of them. So, and I just got in.

So it's, it's just like this little bits and pieces there and the podcast. I was never a podcast girl. And I find myself really enjoying it, especially if I have to take a ride or if I'm going somewhere, I'll listen to him in the car, I have to shut off the ones that are really, really. Cause I can't take notes and drive, but I'm finding the podcasts because they're really raw and authentic.

And I think I, I, they, they go that one extra step or they'll explain the why, where sometimes, you know, you know, things don't always come across when you're in the written form, they come across.

[01:25:48] Steph: Favorite, like I guess they don't even need to be industry podcasts, but like, what would be a favorite podcast that you tune in

[01:25:54] Judi: for?

I actually, I listen a lot to, masters in travel.

[01:25:58] Steph: Oh, yep. Well, that's Whitney Schindler. We'll link to that.

[01:26:01] Judi: Yes. I listened a lot to her and I listened a lot to take the helm. Oh, yeah. Read us. She's, I've actually gotten a lot of great information. She's had some really interesting things, especially on like technology and marketing stuff.

Like I've gotten a lot of great information on that. Sometimes I'll listen to the ones that are just in enjoyable you know, just maybe industry things going on. So I might not be gaining factual stuff to, for my business, but I'm gaining information in the industry. Those are like the ones that travel weekly put out and so forth.

Yeah. I think it was that follow. Is it?

[01:26:38] Steph: Yeah. So we'll, we'll link to Whitney's and to Rita's. And for those that don't know Rita, she helps out over at heart quite a bit and she helps out with Host Week. So that's great to

[01:26:48] Judi: hear. Yeah, she's got some really great, like, especially in the world of like marketing and, technology that she just, you know, how work smart or not harder type of stuff.

And getting back to the Whitney to bring that together with the suppliers. My newest thing that I'm going to be trying is I'm going to, I'm going to sign up for the trial version of the hive. But I think that will solve, that has the potential to solve my supplier learning situation. But now that I feel like I have clients and my business is growing, like this might be the perfect time for me to You know, if I had this, this awesome, you know, for people who don't understand the hive, it has all different vendors and DMCs and tour groups and, and you can plug in all these different filters and it comes back and it tells you these are the different ones that offer at these different levels.

So I think it has the potential to be really helpful to work smarter, not harder type of thing. So

[01:27:50] Steph: we'll link to the hive for those that are interested in learning a little bit more about it.

[01:27:55] Indispensable

[01:27:55] Steph: And and Judy, we are coming to a close for the day. So we are going to bring up our last segment, which is indispensable.

And that's where we ask the travel advisor that we're interviewing. What technology book or person has been indispensable to the growth of your agency and why?

[01:28:15] Judi: This is very hard question because it is a question that almost I don't really have a book and I think it goes without saying, you know, the heart community could be a person.

And as far as technology, they're helpful, but I, I have to actually, the growth of it has to, it's something that can't be replicated. It was my family that I have had the support from even my parents beforehand telling me don't just don't stop, keep going, you know, go after it to when I decided to launch.

I had, when I decided to really like, okay, I'm making a go for it. I had such great support from my kids who are very busy lives. But they turn around and my son decided he was going to make me a campaign on. Canberra and cause he knows social media and my oldest is working on videos for me to put together for like different examples so that someday I'll have a YouTube channel that's in the tickler filer and my middle one is my writer.

So I, I'm very fortunate and even more so than that. And the reason why I say it's indispensable is because when I'm tired and I'm beat up and I'm exhausted and you do get that way, you know, cause you want it to, you want to launch.

[01:29:38] Steph: You're an entrepreneur. That's what happens when you're an entrepreneur.

[01:29:42] Judi: They are my biggest cheerleaders. You know, you've got this mom go for, you know, the hardest thing for them is that I'm not readily available for them. I'll get the, is it okay to call? I'm like, nope. And then of course my husband, God bless him. You know, he works full time, but I will be sitting here many days and he's.

bringing in my lunch, making sure I eat, he'll fill my coffee. So honestly, it's not a fancy answer. But it's also what brought me into the industry was, you know, the multi generation, the travel, the family connections, the whole premise of memories on the move was the reason why I honed in on that, especially post COVID is because too many of us were locked down.

And too many of us were in our own corners of the world. And many times, even if people go home to visit, they're not fully there. You know, they come in. I know even in my, I do used to do it to my own mother and go into her house and I'm just like eating her food and lounging on her couch and like, am I really creating memories?

And so this is an opportunity for families. I have Marine, I didn't mean I have military families to go somewhere together to create those. undeniable stories that will be told forever. And since we've lost, you know, my three parents My stepfather for 40 years. So he's really an extra dad. I had Since then my kids live off those stories.

Yeah, they live off those stories. We'll talk about Remember when we were sitting outside the Grand Canyon and grampy came out and couldn't find us and he was wandering around and none of us Stuck our head out to say we're over here you know just silly stories and little things and my My father, my stepfather loved, he's a voracious reader, and he used to get up early in the morning and read at like five in the morning, sitting on his balcony, always wanted a balcony, and I woke up one morning and my seven year old is missing, and I'm like, where is she?

And I peek out the window, and there, I didn't know this, it was going on every day, she's sitting there with her grandfather, she's reading her little magic tree house, and First chapter book and he's got his coffee and he was getting her little juices and a little thing of cereal and they really weren't even talking about sitting there reading their book in the morning sunshine.

And I'm like, you can't. Yeah, it's priceless memory. So the family, the support, the encouragement. That's not the,

[01:32:26] Steph: The fanciest answer per se, but I mean, I think this crosses over for anybody that yours is your family, but when you start your business, having a support system that cheers you on, lifts you up, gives you The confidence when you're feeling low on yourself and also holds you accountable because I know a lot of people are nervous when they're starting out to say they're doing something because they don't want, they're not ready yet to share it, but I would encourage you for at least one or two people.

And this is outside of like your partner, if you have a partner, but. Tell someone else you're doing it so they can check in with it like a good friend that you trust. And that that you can give feedback to because being an entrepreneur is an emotional roller coaster. It can be isolating. It can be hard.

You can doubt yourself so much. So that I think it's a great answer,

[01:33:22] Judi: Judy. Thank you. And that's a throwback to to because your peers. Like in the horror community that we have our buzz sessions, you know, it is one of those things where we all help each other out and we offer our two cents or we bond or commiserate, depending on what it may be, you know, it's all those different emotions that come with it.

One of the other things to get more professional is there's a Ted talk, Simon Sanak, it's He is, it's S I N, S I N E K. I always spell it wrong. It's my Boston accent. He actually does a TED talk on selling the why and so if you need, if you, if your support system isn't around you in your doesn't have the time for you in the moment and you're looking for some outside help.

I found that very helpful because, again, we're business owners. We're selling travel. We're also selling a service.

Why did we choose this industry? You could sell anything, you know, I mean, there's sellers all over the place, but you're selling travel for a reason. And that the why of it, it, it helps you with closing and it helps you with your, your qualifying, your clients is to really dig deep on there. And I found that his information was just, it resonated with me.

[01:34:56] Steph: Well, we will, we will link to that TED talk for those that are looking for some information and inspiration.

[01:35:03] Judi: Yeah, there's more on sales, not travel, but it's that same, it's that philosophy of what you're trying to do, and I feel like newbies like myself and my peers, we try very much to, okay, we want to be professional, and we want to have legitimacy, and we're trying to put it out there, and we're worrying about, All of this stuff.

And the one thing that I have learned differently from month two compared to today. Is don't take your personality out of it. Oh yeah. But it's hard because a lot of people go into that. Okay. They're a little bit more formality because they're looking to establish themselves because they're looking to, you know, have that presence that they're, they're, they're showing a business and they're trying to show a professional, but there's an element of it there that.

I think can get washed away. And that's why like that video call that I have with my people, I get really bummed out when they sign up for the phone one, but the video call that I have, it's where we sell the, why, you know, why are you doing this? Why do you want to go there? You know, why is it important to you?


[01:36:13] Steph: That's a great point, Judy. Because the, as a travel advisor, you are selling things and it's, but, but like the passion and having your personality in it, like that's the thing that no one can ever copy. They can copy everything about your process. They can copy your fees. They can copy, have a similar name, the same niche, but no one ever captures your personality.

And that's, that's to your advantage.

[01:36:40] Judi: So. It's to everybody's advantage. Exactly. Because they're working with you. You want them to pay you fees? You want them to trust you with their hard earned vacation time? You know, let them know who you are.

[01:36:53] Steph: Perfect. Well, that's a wonderful way to close things out, Judy.

I want to thank you for sharing your experience the past year and congratulations. Huge congrats on your success.

[01:37:06] Judi: Steph, thank you so much. And thank you to the Heart Community, to all of you, You know, Rita, the you know, Mary, everybody within the community itself on top of, you know, the peers that I went through the course with I'm excited that I signed up to stay in the, the bus sessions a little longer because, you know, it's just exciting to see people take off.

It's exciting to see, you know, their little avenues and, and it's, it's, it's in a warm and inviting industry. I can't say that was probably the biggest surprise.

[01:37:39] Steph: Yeah, it's, it's incredibly welcome. Yes. Welcoming to everybody.

[01:37:43] Judi: So it's very much so I, I have to stay in the sales world. My husband comes from a sales engineering world in a sales world.

I was very, it was just, it fills my heart.

[01:37:55] Steph: Yeah. Well. Thank you all for tuning in as well for today's TAC episode. I know that everyone has very, very busy days and we appreciate the time you spent with us today. So this is Q1's podcast and we will be out with a Q2 podcast. Well, I can't tell you when, but it will be sometime in Q2.

So until then, thank you all. And thank you again, Judy.

[01:38:19] Judi: Thank you. Thank you so much and have a good day everyone.

[01:38:22] Outro

[01:38:22] Steph: Like today's show? We'd love it if you had time to hop on over and leave a review on your favorite podcast platform, but we also know you're busy people. So if you can't leave a review today, that's okay. At least have some dark chocolate or cookies for us. You can read a transcript, read the show notes and watch a video of today's episode all in one place.

Head on over to hostagencyreviews. com slash TAC and click on episode 28.


About the Author
Steph Lee - Host Agency Reviews

Steph Lee

Steph grew up in the travel industry, helping on and off with her mom's homebased travel agency. She has worked with thousands of agents in her role as a former host agency director before leaving in 2012 to start HAR. She's insatiably curious, loves her pups Fennec and Orion, and -- in case you haven't noticed -- is pretty quirky and free-spirited.

If you’re looking for Steph, she leaves a trace where ever she goes! You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (her fav) and Pinterest as 'iamstephly'. 🙂 You can also catch her on her Substack, Bumblin' Around, where she writes on things outside the world of HAR.